Leaving the window, he returned to the body. “One of Henry’s. Confirms the Pure Psy connection.” Visual identification made impossible by the fact the SnowDancer’s kill shot had obliterated the Tk’s face, Vasic had accessed the Council’s main Tk database, confirmed ID via DNA. An Arrow who had infiltrated Pure Psy had then provided verification of the dead male’s continued political allegiance to the group.
“Have you had any success in tracing Henry?” Vasic asked.
“No. However, I have something in progress that may give him to us before the night is out.” It was a bold prediction, but Aden knew his own abilities, as he knew Henry’s. “He can’t be shielding himself—he doesn’t have the skill.” Henry was high-Gradient, but it wasn’t always about power, as how the power the individual had was used.
“Vasquez must have arranged it through a more gifted telepath.” The squad had zeroed in on Henry’s general even before Kaleb Krychek made him a priority, been attempting to flush him out. “He continues to be a problem—I’ve been unable to track down any images of him since his official death.” The man had scrubbed the Net clean of his presence.
Vasic walked the perimeter of the room, and Aden knew he was calculating the work to be done. “Did you discover why he was removed from the training program for the squad?” the teleporter asked as he turned a corner.
“He failed the psychological evaluation.” It was a difficult test to fail—sociopaths made the perfect assassins after all. “A high level of instability.”
“The psych eval may have been wrong in this case.” Vasic returned to the center of the room. “He has run things with military precision for Henry.”
Aden watched Vasic lower his head, flex his hands. “He is also a zealot.”
“Some would say so are Arrows.” Blood droplets began to peel off walls and out of the carpet, coalescing into a single red stain above the dead man’s body. “We very much were at the start, when Adelaja created the squad.”
An elite unit formed to protect Silence, that had been their mission statement. For over a century, the Arrows had ensured no one dared raise his or her voice against the Protocol, believing it was Silence that had saved their race. Now they knew Silence had consequences that could lead to the extinction of their people, and that war was inevitable. After it was over, they would have to find a new reason for being.
The giant “drop” of blood mixed with smears of brain and bone grew bigger and bigger as Vasic collected minute traces from the carpet, the walls, the air itself. If the anchor decided to return to her home once the danger was past, she’d find no evidence of violence.
“Where shall I take it?” Vasic asked, his tone indicating no emotional disturbance at the grim task.
However, Aden had known the other man nearly his entire lifetime, understood how close Vasic was to the final edge. “Biohazard container at the Arrow morgue,” he said, and watched as, instead of teleporting the biological material out, Vasic teleported one of the containers in. The blood and brain matter poured easily into the floating receptacle, not a drop spilled, and then the container was capped and teleported away.
Vasic next lifted the body off the ground and cleaned up the blood trapped beneath, while Aden rechecked the room for any covert surveillance devices the Tk might’ve planted in advance of his attack. He knew Nikita and Anthony’s people had already done a pass, as had the changelings, but an Arrow took nothing on faith.
He found no sign of a bug.
Satisfied, he turned off the mobile disrupter he’d switched on when Vasic ’ported them in.
“The room’s clean,” Vasic said into the silence, the corpse floating a few feet in front of him. “The morgue?”
“IF I’M UNDERSTANDING how the anchor network works,” Adria said, a sudden chill invading her veins as they drove through the light drizzle that had begun to fall, “then the fail-safes connected to this anchor have to be dead.”
Brutal comprehension darkened Riaz’s expression. “I hope to hell you’re wrong.”
Thankfully, it turned out she was.
“It looks like Pure Psy decided to reverse the order,” Judd told them when they met the former Arrow in the White Zone on their return to the den, his jaw tight with contained fury, his hair damp from the misty rain. “Murder the anchor, then use the ensuing chaos to eliminate the backups. But there’s a second, worse option—that they intended to go directly from anchor to anchor in the state.”
“Kill enough of the linchpins,” Adria said, the surface proximity of her wolf apparent in the amber tinge to her eyes, “and the support structure would’ve started to crumple.”
Judd took in the blood that stained the bottom of Adria’s torn T-shirt, her sweatshirt bunched up in her hand. The soldier had tilted her face toward the rain, and he knew she wanted only to wash off the stink of blood and death. “The fail-safes are backups, not anchors,” he said, confirming her guess. “They can’t maintain the PsyNet on their own over an extended period, and even if other anchors stretch their zones of influence to cover the gap, the fabric would eventually stretch too thin, begin to tear.”
Riaz’s gaze connected with Judd’s. “I thought I got it earlier,” he said, “how big this is, but I didn’t, not until now. Anyone who knows the locations of every anchor across the world, or in a large enough region, can annihilate the PsyNet.”